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Match preview: West Coast v Geelong

Pick a Winner: WC v Geel Duck and Browny preview the Eagles v Cats
Luke Shuey will have a key role in the midfield - AFL,West Coast Eagles,Geelong Cats,Optus Stadium
Luke Shuey will have a key role in the midfield

SUMMARY
The Eagles return to Optus Stadium buoyed by a thumping victory on the road against the Western Bulldogs and will be desperate to keep the momentum going by notching a historic first win at their new home. West Coast has received a shot in the arm from playing four debutants in the opening two rounds, and Liam Ryan (three goals), Daniel Venables (three) and Jake Waterman (two) hit the scoreboard last round to help cover Josh Kennedy's ongoing absence. Youthful enthusiasm is important, but the Eagles will be heavily reliant on their prime movers through midfield – especially star ruckman Nic Naitanui – to quell the influence of Geelong's trio of champions Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett. If the Eagles can break even around the contest and in the supply battle, then a forward line led by in-form duo Jack Darling and Mark LeCras has the firepower to worry the Cats, who will come out snarling after an epic one-point loss to Hawthorn on Easter Monday.

WHERE AND WHEN: Optus Stadium, Sunday, April 8, 2.40pm AWST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide 

LAST FIVE TIMES
R13, 2017, West Coast 11.17 (83) d Geelong 10.10 (70) at Subiaco Oval
R7, 2016, Geelong 18.15 (123) d West Coast 12.7 (79) at GMHBA Stadium
R9, 2015, West Coast 16.24 (120) d Geelong 10.4 (64) at Subiaco Oval
R4, 2014, Geelong 16.11 (107) d West Coast 4.8 (32) at GMHBA Stadium
R21, 2013, Geelong 16.11 (107) d West Coast 6.5 (41) at Subiaco Oval
 

THE SIX POINTS
West Coast holds a narrow historical advantage over Geelong, winning 25 games to 24, with one draw. Nothing separates the sides since 2012, with three wins each.

The Eagles are searching for their first win at their new home. West Coast had a good recent track record against Geelong at Subiaco Oval, winning four of the past five, including a 13-point triumph last year.

Despite their gun midfield, the Cats are averaging the fewest inside 50s (42 per game) so far this season, although they are ranked seventh for marks inside 50.

Even without dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy, the Eagles have been dangerous in attack, with 32 marks inside 50, eight of those taken by Jack Darling.

It's early days but Geelong (third for points scored) and West Coast (fourth) have been hitting the scoreboard and it could be a shootout at Optus Stadium.

It's no secret the Eagles' midfield has a tough task ahead of them taking on Geelong's star trio of Patrick Dangerfield, who is ranked first by the Schick AFL Player Ratings, Joel Selwood (eighth) and Gary Ablett (48th), but ex-South Fremantle gun Tim Kelly (550th) and, if he plays, Mitch Duncan (55th) could also give West Coast headaches.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … 
It would have been pleasing, in a way, for the Eagles to win against the Dogs without Luke Shuey having a big impact, but West Coast will need its most dynamic midfielder at his best to help match the Cats' stellar onball brigade.  

PREDICTION: Geelong by six points

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs